Should you have your curriculum vita (CV, also known as the “academic resume”) reviewed prior to applying for online teaching jobs?
If a school asks for nothing else, they will ask for your CV. Curriculum vita, roughly translated, means “life’s work;” it is a document that shows how you, over the course of your adult life, have developed your expertise enough to render you a qualified instructor. It is the story of how your accomplishments, work history, publications, education, and awards coalesce into an expert prepared teach in the higher education environment.
In other words, the CV a very important document. To put a finer point on it, let’s review five reasons why you will want to have your online teaching CV reviewed.
Online teaching is a niche. There is a ton of information out there on how to write a CV. However, there aren’t as many resources available for writing an online teaching CV. If you are specifically looking for online teaching opportunities, you will want to make sure your application documents speak to that audience. A reviewer with these insights could be particularly beneficial.
The online teaching CV doesn’t deviate too much from an on-ground teaching CV, but the differences are important. We review some of these in our OnRamp: A Practical Guide to Landing an Online Teaching Job course. In general, an online teaching CV should paint you as a student-centered instructor who knows how to engage students in a distance learning environment, and as someone who can speak to and empathize with working adult students. Additionally, there are ways to emphasize your readiness to teach online even if you have no online teaching experience. Having someone review your CV to make sure these points come across loud and clear can be very helpful.
Checking the boxes and finding the errors. While a selection committee wants to read your story as told by your CV, they are also looking to check some boxes. Those boxes are the job requirements listed in their job posting. A reviewer can help you make sure your CV checks those boxes and does so obviously and convincingly. They can also help you compensate for requirements you may not exactly have, but kind of do. They can make suggestions for professional development you might pursue in order to check a box.
Reviewers dot your i’s and cross your t’s. They can help you avoid common mistakes that people make on their CVs. They also will check for typos, unclear language, obnoxious formatting, and overuse of acronyms. If they’ve heard anything on your CV before (meaning it’s not necessarily wholly original) they can help you craft that into something that more authentically represents you.
This whole exchange is valuable in and of itself. This “thinking out loud” about your background with another person helps generate ideas that can strengthen your CV while also churning your gears in such a way as to inspire the rest of your application and your interview strategy.
Confidence boost. Successfully landing an online teaching job or developing a career as an online instructor is possible, but it can be a difficult journey. Rejections, unfortunately, are common. Often, you never get any helpful feedback about why you were not chosen. Questions arise…am I just not what they are looking for? Or is it something about my CV that is holding me back? If you have spent a good amount of effort, did thorough research, and got your CV reviewed by one or more knowledgeable people, you can check something off your worry list. “Nope, I know my CV is strong. So, it’s not that.” That can give you at least one answer in a game where there are few. This can boost your confidence when it comes to trying again, even if only a only a little bit. It is the trying again that will get you closer to landing a position.
Reviewed, not done. The word “review” here is important. There are services out there who will actually create your CV for you. Which is definitely an option. However, there is a great deal of value to doing some research, understanding what a CV is and what it should include, and taking a stab at it yourself. And then having it reviewed. Why?
1) Doing it yourself orients your thinking. The process of preparing your CV can teach you a lot about yourself. If the adage “it’s the journey, not the destination” holds true, then it would stand to reason that creating your own CV will help you develop this skill as well as remind you of all the wonderful achievements and accomplishments you’ve made over your career. Yes, get a reviewer to help you think of things you may not have considered, but go through the process first. It will add a layer of depth to this whole job-hunt experience that can pay dividends later (i.e. preparing you for interview questions, give you some grist for the mill for your cover letter and Statement of Teaching Philosophy, etc.).
2) There are more options out there for reviewers. There are services who will review the draft of your CV for you. But, if there are people in your life who you know would be helpful reviewers, they may do so for you as a favor. Or you can get a lot of people in your academic/professional circle to review your CV for you (if two heads are better than one, then three or four heads are better than two!). Your graduate school mentor, an online instructor who you connected with, your current chair or supervisor, etc. Your options are wide open, and your feedback will be richer and more diverse as a result.
Help for the “unique situation.” Aspiring online instructors have many questions that pertain to their specific and unique situations. Some examples include:
“I see that schools often require teaching experience. I have taught professional development courses and have trained employees for years as part of my industry job, even online. How do I represent myself as an experienced online teacher even though I have never worked in higher education before?”
“I have a Masters degree and I am ABD for my doctorate. How do I represent those years I spent in my doctoral program without representing myself as a graduate?”
“I have a Masters in English but my doctorate is in Organizational Leadership. I have a lot of experience teaching composition courses but I’m lite on business leadership industry experience. If I want to teach more business courses (vs. English) how do I present myself in my CV?”
Everyone’s situation is different and can present interesting challenges to the traditional flow, headings, or organization of a CV. Talking through these things with a reviewer and brainstorming their solutions can be very helpful, and ultimately lead to a better representation of “you” on this important document.
So, should you have your CV reviewed? Certainly. Who should review it? Take stock of the people in your network – your academic heroes, people you know who are already teaching online, even close friends who have their finger on the pulse of what selection committees look for in a candidate. Giving them a link or print out of the job listing you are applying to will be very helpful, as will sharing this article with them. Engage in conversation about what online programs appear to be looking for and how well your CV captures that essence. You can also shop services who provide CV reviews for you.